Monday, January 21, 2013
2014 Audi RS 7 Sportback First Look
Liftback Ready for Liftoff
The 2014 Audi RS 7 Sportback should excite American enthusiasts. With 553 horsepower packed under its hood, it had better. But the most important thing is that unlike some other Audi RS models (we're looking longingly at you, RS 6 Avant), it's coming to the U.S. American fans of Audi's hyper-performance machines can rightfully rejoice. Vorsprung durch Technik, forever! The RS 7 Sportback, which is being revealed to the world at the 2013 North American International Auto Show, is the newest addition to the growing RS family here in the States, following in the tire tracks of the TT RS and RS 5 coupe and convertible. Its 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8 (the same mill powering the RS 6 Avant) packs its 553 horsepower wallop with 516 lb-ft for good measure. All that muscle is sent to all four wheels via an RS-tuned eight-speed automatic and Audi's signature Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Top speed is set at 155 mph, but available Dynamic or Dynamic Plus packages raise the ceiling to 174 and 190 mph, respectively.
Audi estimates the RS 7 will run from 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds, but we expect to see a lower number once our test team gets their hands on one. For example, an RS 5 coupe powered by a version of Audi's naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8 we recently tested had an estimated 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds, but completed the task in 4 seconds flat according to our instruments. And let's not forget that the Audi S8 posted a time of 3.5 seconds, despite its heft and an engine that puts out 520 hp. The RS 7 should sound good, too, since its exhaust system will include flaps that open up to increase the volume at full throttle or at the push of a button. An optional sport exhaust system is available if the standard pipes aren't noisy enough for you. And for the few of you wondering about fuel economy, the 2013 Audi S7 is EPA-rated at 17/27 mpg city/highway. While the RS 7's numbers should be lower, fuel-sipping technology like engine stop-start and cylinder deactivation will help the mpg cause.
The RS 7 will arrive stuffed with much of the handling goodies we've already tested in the RS 5. For starters, there's the RS-optimized Quattro system, which can send up to 60 percent of the engine's power to the rear wheels, and torque vectoring control, which lightly taps the brakes of the inside wheels during cornering. A sport differential for the rear axle is optional. The RS 7 will also feature Audi's Drive Select system, which allows the driver to fine-tune the sportback's driving characteristics. In Dynamic mode, for example, throttle response is sharpened, more weight is added to the steering feel, and the air suspension is further stiffened. Speaking of the suspension, an Audi rep told us there's a chance U.S.-spec versions will instead come with a sport suspension plus (with Dynamic Ride Control) system, which combines a traditional spring setup with three-stage adjustable dampers.
The four-door will also feature fancy footwear, with standard 20-inch forged wheels or optional 21 inchers. Stuffed behind those rims are six-piston calipers; carbon-fiber ceramic units are available for those who want the maximum stopping power under continued hard braking. And considering you're going to continually be hauling down 553 horsepower, it couldn't hurt to splurge for the carbons. Outside, the 2014 RS 7 is a showcase of requisite RS styling cues. The front clip features massive air dams and honeycomb-style grille with large a "quattro" badge affixed to the bottom. Out back, a sporty rear diffuser features two oval-shaped exhaust tips at the outer edge. Inside, the driver is treated to a flat-bottomed steering wheel, while passengers sit on leather with contrast stitching that mimics the front grille's honeycomb pattern. Other touches include a headliner wrapped in Alcantara, carbon-fiber and aluminum touches, and RS 7 badges. Standard niceties include three-zone climate control and navigation and there's a relative short list of optional features like a head-up display and driver assist systems (adaptive cruise control, front collision avoidance, and active lane assist). The 2014 Audi RS 7 is scheduled to arrive in showrooms this fall, just in time to test out the grippy all-wheel-drive system during the rainy season. Pricing hasn't been announced, but expect to pay well north of the 2013 Audi S7's $79,695 MSRP. It's a high price, but well worth it for any RS aficionado seeking a car that combines four-door hatchback practicality with what should be an insane driving experience.